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Black Fury (1935)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Romance | 18 May 1935 (USA)
An immigrant coal miner finds himself in the middle of a bitter labor dispute between the workers and the mine owners.

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(screen play), (screen play) | 2 more credits »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Joe Radek
...
Anna Novak
...
Slim
...
McGee
...
Mike (as John T. Qualen)
...
Steve (as J. Carroll Naish)
...
Kubanda
...
Poole
...
Hendricks
...
Farrell (as Joe Crehan)
...
Mrs. Mary Novak
...
Sophie Shemanski (as Sarah Haden)
...
Mr. J.J. Welsh
Effie Ellsler ...
Bubitschka
...
Mulligan
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Storyline

An immigrant coal miner finds himself in the middle of a bitter labor dispute between the workers and the mine owners.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

18 May 1935 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Czarna furia  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Mike's murder was based on an actual strike case in which a miner was killed by three company policemen. See more »

Goofs

At c. 24 minutes Joe is counting out his money, but he is inconceivably inaccurate. After counting to 68 dollars he places two further bills on the table and counts "73" out loud. A few moments later he counts up to 75 dollars, but, after four more bills have been placed in front of him he announces "76" dollars as his total. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Marked Woman (1937) See more »

Soundtracks

Young and Healthy
(1933) (uncredited)
Music by Harry Warren
Played on piano in bar during police celebration scene
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Paul Muni tour de force
14 December 2002 | by (Minffordd, North Wales) – See all my reviews

In 'Black Fury', Paul Muni gives one of his best performances, and also appears on screen in one of his more plausible make-ups. This time he plays a Slavic immigrant, uneducated but keenly intelligent, working in an American coal mine. Muni's hair is dyed blond, yet looks realistic, and his own Eastern European facial features work with this characterisation ... not against it, as they did for some of his other roles. The film also features a fine performance from John Qualen, a prolific character actor whose film appearances were often marred by unconvincing and unnecessary foreign accents of the "yumpin' yiminy!" sort. In 'Black Fury', Qualen's flavour-of-the-month accent is less obtrusive than usual, and it actually works for the character he plays: a Polish-American miner.

Joe Radek (Muni) is a miner in a 'company town', where all the labourers are poorly-paid and live in squalid shanties. Radek and his fellow miners work in extremely dangerous conditions. The company that owns the mine also owns all the local businesses, and the local police force also work for the mining company. The cops have no interest in justice: they're bullies whose only concern is to keep the locals quiet and subservient to the company. The head cop is a slimy sadist named McGee, well-played by Barton MacLane. Radek's buddy Shemanski (Qualen) gets drunk one night and makes the mistake of criticising company policy: staggering home that night, he has a fatal 'accident' arranged by McGee's goons.

To call attention to various grievances, Radek fills the mineshaft with dynamite. He packs several days' worth of food for himself, then he takes McGee hostage at gunpoint and brings him into the mine. Radek chains McGee to the pit face, slightly out of reach of Radek's food supply. If Radek's demands aren't met, he's going to blow up the mine ... with himself and McGee inside. After they've been in the mine for several days, there's one harrowing shot of the starving McGee chained to the wall, begging Radek for food. The film ends with one of those slam-bang action climaxes that Warner Bros did so well, spiced with some social commentary that doesn't get too preachy.

The film boasts an excellent supporting cast, filled with actors who are (mostly) more obscure than usual, which helps us to immerse ourselves in the action. Karen Morley, quietly beautiful, gives a fine performance, and Michael Curtiz (a very underrated director) does his usual superlative work.

'Black Fury' is based on a story by Michael A. Musmanno, a Pennsylvania lawyer of Italian descent. Late in his life, Musmanno devoted several decades to writing a book called 'Columbus *WAS* First' (his emphasis), which purported to prove that no European explorers reached the Americas before Columbus. Musmanno's claims for Columbus have long since been disproven, but 'Black Fury' is an excellent film. I'll rate this movie 9 points out of 10.

Trivia note: Shortly after this movie was released, Warner Brothers released a Loony Toon starring Porky Pig as a hunter who had a dog named Black Fury. What a shameless plug!


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